As part of this years BSc Palaeoecology course at the University of Amsterdam we visited the Department of Archaeology. Organised by Anja Fischer we visited the human bone collection, the animal bone collection and the archaeobotany section. Amazing collections and lots of opportunities for cross faculty projects and teaching.
In addition to explaining the physical reference collections Anja also explained how she has been developing data mining techniques to allow information to be synthesised from the thousands of archaeological reports across the Netherlands.
She used this approach to make new discoveries about the role of urban farming and ruralisation in Dutch history. Her findings formed a report for the Dutch national heritage organisation (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed) which can be downloaded for free (in English).
Fischer, A., van Londen, H., Blonk, A., Visser, R.M. & Renes, J. (2021) Urban Farming and Ruralisation in The Netherlands (1250-1850): Unravelling farming practice and the use of (open) space by synthesising archaeological reports using text mining. Nederlandse Archeologische Rapporten 68. Download free here.
Week 1 (last week) we got everyone up to speed with the fundamentals of palaeoecology (including: key principles, depositional environments, dating methods) and laboratory skills (pollen, phytolith and macrofossil identification). This week (week 2) we are out and about (coring sediments, surveying vegetation and visiting the archaeology department). By the end of the week the students will (should!?) have generated sufficient data in the laboratory and field to be able to identify the location from which their mini-project “mystery slides” were taken. Next week (week 3) will be number crunching to generate the statistical support for their ideas and inferences.
Students collecting sediments using a Russian corer at Langenboom (September, 2022). These samples were recovered in collaboration with the BosGroep Zuid Nederland as part of an ongoing project to gain new insights into the nature of the past landscape in the Netherlands and aid conservation efforts.
de Wolf, I.K., McMichael, C.N.H., Philip, A.L. & Gosling, W.D. (2022) Characterising Dutch forests, wetlands and cultivated lands on the basis of phytolith assemblages. Netherlands Journal of Geosciences 101, e17. DOI: 10.1017/njg.2022.14
This paper started off as a research thesis undertaken by Iris de Wolf at the University of Amsterdam as part of her BSc Biology degree in 2018. The project was supervised by Crystal McMichael and William Gosling and has subsequently been further developed. If you are student or researcher interested in undertaking a similar type of projects please get in touch.
Listen to Iris’s journal podcast speaking about the subject here.
The Palaeoecology Research Group within the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for Geoanthropology, Jena, Germany is pleased to announce a new vacancy for a doctoral student exploring human-environment interactions in the Caribbean. The position will be based in Jena, Germany for a period of 3 years with the option for extensions and supervised by Dr. Yoshi Maezumi.
The Palaeoecology Research Group analyses palaeoecological and archaeobotanical proxies from sedimentary archives, including pollen, phytoliths, charcoal and stable isotopes to examine topics including the legacy of human land-use on ecosystems, spatio-temporal patterns of natural and human-driven fire activity, and the influence of natural and human disturbance regimes on the biogeographic distribution of plants and animals in past ecosystems.
Elliott, S., Maezumi, S.Y., Robinson, M., Burn, M., Gosling, W.D., Mickleburgh, H.L., Walters, S. & Beier, Z.J.M. (2022) The legacy of 1300 years of land use in Jamaica. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2022.2078448
The fifth Mapping Ancient African project took place on Monday 11 April 2022 and focused on the African Pollen Database and past vegetation change in Africa.
The seminar was delivered by Sarah Ivory (Penn State University), Rahab Kinyanjui (National Museums of Kenya), and Lynne Quick (Nelson Mandela University). The seminar covers the principles behind and the working of the African Pollen Database (why make data openly available?) and the latest advances in eastern and southern Africa.
For more about the African Pollen Database check out:
Gosling, W.D., Scerri, E.M.L. & Kaboth-Bahr, S. (2022) The climate and vegetation backdrop to hominin evolution in Africa. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 377, 20200483. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0483
The fourth of a seminars in the Mapping Ancient African project took place on Tuesday 1 March 2022 and was given by Minchao Wu (Uppsala University). You can watch the seminar now on the Ecology of the Past YouTube channel. Seminar details can be found here.
The third of a seminars in the Mapping Ancient African project took place on Monday 17 January 2022 and was given by Emmanuel Ndiema (National Museums of Kenya). You can watch the seminar now on the Ecology of the Past YouTube channel. Seminar details can be found here.